To say that I couldn’t imagine my life without my Aeropress would be a bit of an overstatement. Of course I can imagine my life without my Aeropress. It’s just that, without my Aeropress, my life would be dull grey and full of suicidal thoughts. My Aeropress makes me happy. It makes me want to get up in the morning and sing, take the day by the horns and, then, do it all over again the next day.
Why this enthusiasm for the Aeropress, you ask? Ah, let me count the ways.
- The Aeropress fixes the single biggest complaint most people have with coffee – that of bitterness and the associated complaint that it gives them heartburn. Coffee made with the Aeropress is one-fifth as acidic as drip-made. That takes care of the bitter and lets the subtle notes shine through. Plus, less acid means there’s less acidity to deal with later.
- It’s cheap, portable and rugged. At $26 (http://www.amazon.com/Aeropress-Coffee-and-Espresso-Maker/dp/B0047BIWSK/ref=sr_1_1) the Aeropress is one of the cheapest ways to discover great coffee. Plus, if you’re like me, it’s very tempting to keep one at home, another at the office and reserve one for when you’re on the road.
- Most of all, though, the Aeropress is very forgiving. Not sure of the temperature of the water? Or the grind? Or the dose? Or, all three? No fear. The Aeropress has your back. This, in fact, is the Aeropress’s greatest virtue. Instead of following a set recipe the Aeropress welcomes you to experiment with different beans, methods and extraction temperatures. Most of the fun in using the little device is figuring out my favourite method for every new batch of coffee. My favourite illustration of this fact comes from the World Aeropress Championship Recipe list (http://worldaeropresschampionship.com/recipes/) where the Top3 recipes over the last few years have diverged greatly on just about every parameter that contributes to making coffee; be it dosage, water temperature, steeping time or even, for that matter, whether the Aeropress is stood straight up or inverted.
In summary, then, the Aeropress is the most bang-for-your-buck method of making gourmet coffee.
What is the Aeropress, exactly? Invented by Alan Adler, president of Aerobie (http://aerobie.com/) – makers of the Aerobie Flying Disc (http://aerobie.com/products/pro.htm – another must-have), the Aeropress is a coffee maker that comprises 2 cylinders in a piston-like arrangement where one copolyester cylinder fits inside the other. The inner cylinder has a rubber plunger that creates an airtight seal while the outer cylinder has a lid that is fitted with a paper or metal filter through which the brew is pressed out.
In the “regular” method a filter paper is fitted into the detachable plastic cap, wetted and fixed onto the outer cylinder.
This cylinder is placed atop your favourite cup with the filter paper at the lower end.
Approximately 15 grams of fine-ground coffee is put into the Aeropress.
30 millilitres of water at (approximately) 80C is poured into the Aeropress and stirred gently to completely hydrate the coffee. This hydrating of coffee so that it lets off CO2 and ensures an even extraction is called a bloom.
After about 30 seconds for the bloom water at 80C is added to the Aeropress till nearly the top.
The cylinder with the plunger is inserted so that the pressure inside holds the water in place.
After about a minute the plunger is depressed, slowly and evenly, extracting the coffee into the cup below till about 50ml of content is left inside. The cap is unscrewed and the remains are discarded.
What is left is one heavenly cup of coffee. Dilute to taste with warm water. Better yet, don’t.
Again, none of these instructions are sacrosanct. Feel free to experiment with every variable to discover your favourite style.
And that is our first foray into the wonderful world of the Aeropress. In subsequent pieces we will look at the variety of techniques and recipes that the Aeropress can deliver. Here’s to many great cups of Joe.